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"Learn more off the court, you're going to get stars in it"

Kim Ji-han (25), the flagship player of the men's professional volleyball Woori Card, lost his pride in the sixth round of the 2023-24 regular season. Playing the second full-time season, he lacked know-how in managing his physical stamina, and suddenly saw his performance deteriorate. He mostly stayed in the warm-up zone, not in the court. Shin Young-cheol, head coach of Woori Card, mainly used veteran outside heater (left) Song Myung-geun instead of Kim Ji-han.

As Kim Ji-han slowed down, Woori Card struggled, too. Although it remained atop in men's rankings until the fifth round, it lost consecutive games against Hyundai Capital on Wednesday and Samsung Fire & Marine Insurance on Wednesday, respectively, to give Korean Air a direct ticket to the championship game. "If I had won one of the two games, I could have ranked first. It was because I did not do better," Kim blamed myself.

I also learned while watching my team play outside the court. "I saw Myung-geun (Song) play a step further away, and he was really good. He also looked back on my play," Kim Ji-han said. "I admit there were ups and downs in my performance. But I thought a lot about it and learned a lot from watching my seniors. I will show you how I did well again."

Woori Card will play the first playoff game against OK Financial Group at Jangchung Gymnasium in Seoul on Sunday. Kim Ji-han, who ranked ninth in the league in score (496 points) and attack success rate (50.30 percent) this season, is still the sharpest spear in Woori Card.

Although Woori Card ranked third in the regular season (PS) last season, it was eliminated after losing in a semi-PO with KEPCO, which ranked fourth. Kim Ji-han also left a regret at the PS stage for the first time.

I will not leave any regrets this season. OK Financial Group gained momentum by beating Hyundai Capital in the semi-PO, while Leonardo Leyva Martinez (registered name Leo) of the league's leading player is holding out.

"My physical strength has fully recovered. I will pour out 120 percent of my physical strength during the training," Kim Ji-han said in a match against the difficult opponent in the championship. "This season is still in progress, and I think what is really important is PS. I want to make it to the championship, and even win Korean Air (to rank No. 1 in the regular league), so that I can engrave (a symbol of championship) a star on my uniform." "Even though I failed to make it to No. 1, all of my team members did their best to play the regular season. I am working with the mindset of 'enjoying' to ease the burden in the spring volleyball tournament," Kim said.
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Saturday, March 23, 2024
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